Deep in the Andes mountains a momentous discovery is made. A professor and his daughter, led by a man who may be more than he seems, discover an ancient Inca chamber full of artifacts depicting extraterrestrial contact with earth. The man turns out to be an Eternal- a subgroup of humans with miraculous abilities- and hidden in the Inca chamber is a cosmic beacon. A beacon he wishes to activate. But there is another group of mythical beings, known as Deviants, who will stop at nothing to destroy the beacon, and a raiding party of these creatures soon arrives to do battle. But what is the beacon for? Who does it call to?
So begins this collection of Eternals stories from the 1970's. This was the era of Chariots of the Gods and the idea of ancient visitors from space was in vogue. Jack Kirby, who along with Stan Lee created many of the Marvel characters now on the big screen, took this concept and ran with it for nineteen issues until the series was cancelled- and in that time he introduced all kinds of quirky and strange ideas. The cosmic beacon is meant to welcome back the Celestials- a race of all- powerful space gods who experiment on creatures throughout the cosmos, and later return to judge their subjects.
This is the time of the Fourth Host of Celestials, and they have come to enact a fifty- year judgment on Earth. If the Earth is found wanting it will be destroyed. And the Eternals are meant to serve the Celestials in this process.
"They planted intelligent life on this planet--the crop has matured...the Celestials will test it and weight its value!"
This was a fun read. The Celestials are a longtime fixture of Marvel comics, and with them appearing in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, I thought it would be fun to look at their earlier appearances. This is a story that frankly would make a good movie- it's very cinematic in its scope- and even a reboot of the story with modern writing and art could be nice if done right. The story follows several of the Eternals- chiefly Ikaris and Thena, although others come and go- as they attempt to protect humanity from Deviants and Celestials alike. One of the cool ideas here is the concept of Hosts. The First Host came a million years ago to experiment on early humans. The Second Host came to apparently check up, and at that time destroyed the Deviant civilization that had enslaved humans. The Third Host was just a few thousand years ago and was about study and cultivation. And now the Fourth Host is about judgment.
Why do they do this? No one knows. Even in the comics not much is known about Celestials, and it's that sense of mystery that makes them interesting. This series is definitely as product of its time- the 70's- so the dialogue is hopelessly overwrought and the art is pretty hokey. I think a lot of today's readers might have trouble with this- comics were more juvenile back then even if the concepts were not- but if you can overlook that, this is not only an interesting piece of comic history but also a fun read. And some of the visuals and descriptions are great.
Miles of travel reveal the first traces of the Deviants' lost grandeur: a giant carved face, half buried in the ocean floor, peers with sightless eyes that date from a time before the great flood.
That's what I'm talking about. An interesting subplot here is a forbidden romance between an Eternal and a Deviant- Thena and Kro. She's a prominent daughter of the Eternals' leader and he is a ruthless Deviant warlord, but somehow there is a connection. Apparently they had a fling in ages past and Kro wants to renew it, but when Thena accompanies him to the Deviant city she witnesses the horrors of their society, including the ritual of Purity Time an occasion where Deviants that are considered rejects are killed. Thena is of course horrified but soon befriends one of the Rejects, an unstoppable killing machine that has been bred to fight. When a Celestial arrives to investigate the city, chaos breaks out as its very presence practically destroys the city, and Thena takes the reject and another mistreated creature with her as she escapes.
As I said, for all the neat concepts, this is very much dated, and I'm not sure it's even in print. I obtained a copy through ComiXology (where a lot of normally unavailable stuff is available in e-form) but I had fun with this. At one point Ikaris and Margo take a cab in NYC and we get this little gem.
"Thanks cabby-- keep the change... I enjoyed your sense of humor."
"We need one here, buddy!"
I couldread this :)ReplyDelete
wow this is quite the find huh. I'm trying to get more into comics because seriously these writers minds are all kinda crazyyyy LOL :)ReplyDelete
The concept does sound very cool and fun but I think I am one that would struggle with the 1970s of it all. I've tried going back and watching some favorite TV shows from that era (my childhood) and they have been painful to watch (the original Battlestar Galactica-ugh!). I'm guessing comics, being more visual and dialogue based, would bring on the cringe like the TV. Glad you are made of sterner stuff and could see through the goofiness to the good stuff!ReplyDelete
It is cringe-worthy, frankly. I mean I just had to go with it, and clearly this was written for kids (dialogue wise) even if the adults writing it were playing with concepts. But it was interesting.Delete
I've heard of ComiXology but didn't know exactly what it was. Good to know these oldies but goodies are still available! Thanks for sharing:-)ReplyDelete
ComiXology is actually pretty cool, they have lots of stuff there. I've only recently discovered it myself...Delete
Oh the 70s might be a bit of a stretch because I was a baby, but who knows? Maybe I'd absorb through knowing all my parents favorites of the time, just like I appreciate the Eagles, ELO and Fleetwood Mac because mom and dad listened to them so much, and even though I was little it sunk in. :) Never have been into comics, or graphic novels, but only because I never really investigated. I do see the appeal. Wonderful review, Greg! :)ReplyDelete
Thank you! And I love Fleetwood Mac... some of the 70's music is so awesome. :) This one was definitely a 70's thing though- I mean it was pretty silly- but I just went with it and enjoyed it for the most part. Times sure were different!Delete
A couple of comedians I follow on Twitter, who are into vintage comics, have mentioned ComiXology. I will have to check it out, now. :)ReplyDelete
ComiXology is kinda cool, I've found all kinds of older (and newer) stuff there. I think I pay under $10 per month and it's been worth it.Delete
Glad to hear you enjoyed this, Greg. Awesome review. It's been so long since the last time I read a comic. I used to be a big fan of comics when I was a teenager. I miss those times.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing, Greg. Have a wonderful week. :)
I read some comics as a teen and haven't been reading as many, but I've been trying to catch up a bit. :)Delete
This is awesome! I love Marvel, and this sounds like a fun read, even though it's not exactly timeless; but as a collector of 70's/80's comics, I think I could get on board. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, Greg! Great review :)ReplyDelete
It was definitely a 70's thing- I mean wow was it silly!- but at the same time I liked it for a throwback look at the times. :)Delete
Oh, gosh, I remember the ancient-visitors-from-space craze of the seventies. All those books by Erich von Daniken, including Chariots of the Gods. I actually read several of them (hey, I was in high school!) but I soon realized that the "evidence" he cited could as easily be explained in ways that didn't depend on alien visitors. Anyway, while this series sounds dated, it also sounds like fun. I'm glad you enjoyed it!ReplyDelete
I know, I never read any but I remember hearing about em. I love the idea, and this was a very 70's tale!!Delete
Love that cover, Greg! At first I was thinking my son would like this. Now I'm thinking I will. LOLReplyDelete
We're both almost finished with Gaiman's Sandman series and need something new.
I like that cover too! And I liked it. But it is very hokey...Delete
I'm not that big on Marvel usually (I know, I know) so I've never actually heard of The Celestials. But this sounds pretty fun, if a bit too old-school for me. I do have a ComiXology account though, so I may need to use that to explore more Marvel offerings soon!ReplyDelete
I had heard of the Celestials and read about them in some newer stuff, so I was curious. Cool concept, just very 70's storytelling lol.Delete
I've seen like two Marvel superhero movies and read none of the comics, so I'm totally in the dark about this stuff, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! Sounds fun in an old school way. And forbidden romance is always fun lol.ReplyDelete